Valentine’s Posing Pansies

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dear Lindsey,

Chris and I have never been much for the typical Hallmark holidays. We love each other,

English: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one with ...

and tell each other regularly…in our own ways.  It might be my making his favorite meal, or his taking the kids so I can go for a walk ALONE on a sunny afternoon. We each have love languages that are outside of Chapman’s book, but it is good, because we have discussed it and both agree our language is right for us. (Shouldn’t chocolate be another Love Language? Or fishing? Or …oops, I am off my story.)

I love that for our anniversary one year (ok, many years), he stopped at a convenience store and bought me my favorite candy on his way home late at night. Somehow it makes me feel special that he trusts me not to be a high maintenance girl, and he can count on me to not be needy when he is living life for a purpose, our purpose. I know it’s weird, but it flatters me just the same. Of course, I have never been offended by his brag-worthy gifts, either!

For his birthday, I spell “Happy Birthday” with cookies since he likes them better than cake, and I am confident that it is one gift he cannot get for himself. I guess that’s how we speak love in the Brady house.

But one Valentine’s Day a few years ago, he decided to dare to be different. Or actually, he dared to be typical, since he was usually different.  He dared to get me the typical Valentine’s gift: a dozen red roses.

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950

I am guessing he planned on walking in and creating a dramatic moment, carrying the lovely vase of abnormally gorgeous flowers in full bloom.  He probably imagined his bride descending the stairs and covering him with grateful kisses, while kids oohed and aahed by our side. He knew the “typical” would be a surprise in itself, since it was different than our norm.

But I was not home. He had forgotten it was my day with the homeschool group at church.

By the time I got home, the flowers were proudly displayed on the kitchen island.  Immediately putting my nose to them to take in the fragrance, I realized they were silk. Silk? Yes, fake flowers. I tried to think through his reasoning:

“Silk flowers will prevent her allergies from bothering her.”

“Silk flowers will last forever, while real flowers will die away.”

“Silk flowers look perfect, and have more vibrant colors.”

“Terri likes silk, which is why she had them at our wedding.” (In reality, we had silk wedding flowers, because we got married Mother’s Day weekend, and no flower shop would commit to live flowers…oh yeah, and they were cheaper.)

But then I got real:

“I bet he didn’t even notice they were fake. He probably stopped at the store and was on the phone. He grabbed the first thing he saw, paid with a credit card and brought them home.”

 When he was done with his conference call, I went into his office and told him thanks for the Valentine’s Day flowers. He never explained the silk, and I never mentioned it. He was beaming that I was pleased.

The next day, I couldn’t hide it any longer.

“Did you know those flowers were fake?” I asked him in his office, mid morning.

Pause…

…Long pause…

“Are you kidding?” He looked up at me with those sparkly eyes, which seemed to be restraining the grin to sheepishness.

“The flowers are fake?” He asked me.

I giggled, “yes.”

I continued, in order to relieve his awkwardness and bring the humor we both love, “Let me guess: you stepped into the flower store at 90 mph and picked up the prettiest thing you saw. You couldn’t get off the phone, patiently waiting while someone was talking in your ear; you paid for the order and brought it home to the counter, never noticing that you had purchased silk flowers.”

“Guilty as charged,” he said, with a full-out grin, which burst to laughter. “I even held it carefully with one hand on the passenger seat, trying not to spill the ‘water’ on the way home!” He laughed some more.

A man who can laugh at himself is easy to love.

The flowers didn’t make me sneeze.

They were vibrant and colorful.

They made a beautiful year-round decoration, and even survived a move or two.

Discount Flower Delivery Detroit   3 Dozen Red...

They reminded me that I married the man of my dreams as a playmate. The humor of the situation bonded our marriage further and was truly my favorite Valentine’s present ever.

Any Prince Charming could have given me flowers. Mine gave me a story.

May you cherish the stories with your Valentine!

– Terri Brady

The gift that says, “I’m the big one!”

Dear Lindsey,

I know it’s not much to look at, perched on my office bookshelf among the cluttered books, but just seeing it floods my memory and heart, sufficing the intention of any gift.

My husband, Chris, had taken the boys, age 2 and 5, to the store and handed them $10 each. He told them they could buy anything they wanted for me for my birthday.

Nate, full of personality (and leaving very few of his thoughts to mystery) had those pudgy cheeks the church ladies would squeeze.  Always a competitor, when asked his age, he would answer “5,” (his older brother’s age) with full confidence.

“My! You are such a cute little boy!” a stranger had once told him.

Nate replied, “I’m not little! Except when I look in the mirror, then I’m still little, but I’m not little for real.”  (Although, it sounded more like, “I’m not wittle!”) Ha! Such spunk!

Casey, a sweet spirited pensive type, made the perfect best friend of opposite personality.  I am sure he kept the birthday shopping in line, as he turned down Hot Wheels and guns, aiming for the perfect gift for Mom, not himself.

The package wasn’t wrapped professionally. Evidence of novice hands’ work made it all the more special.  Nothing needed tearing for the present to be opened, since the young deliverers who shared in handing it to me had torn most of it. They stood, or maybe bounced, in anticipation, waiting for my response to their deeply-thought-out purchase.

The torn colored paper revealed the gift: two pigs.

Chris stood in the background, smiling so hard his cheeks might have cracked.  It was truly delightful to see these two boys so excited to give. Casey (5) explained the reasoning for the choice: “They are two brothers, just like Nate and me. We put our money together to buy it!  We thought if you put it in your office, then you would think of us. We knew if we got you candy or something, you might eat it and then it would be gone, but this you can keep FOREVER. It says, ‘I love you,’ because we do!” His reasoning continued, while I basked in the joy of the moment. I gave hugs of gratitude while they both beamed with pride over their selection.

Afterward, I cleaned up the papers and sent them for their PJ’s to start the bedtime routine.  As Casey started toward the stairs, Nate suddenly turned away and ran to my side, cupping his mouth to my ear so Casey wouldn’t hear. (–This is my favorite part!!:)

“I’m the big one!” the 2-year-old whispered, happily pointing to the pigs, which ironically both looked identical. That adorable memory of my “big” 2-yr-old sits on the shelf where the pigs still reside 10 years later.

What makes the gift special?

–      Chris. He thought to take time out of his busy schedule to let toddlers do the shopping.

–      It’s the thought that counts…always; their hearts beamed brighter than the most valuable diamond.

–      The 2-yr-old’s and 5-yr-old’s antics are no longer in my house; I cherish those memories.  No material possession could ever rank over moments that cannot be relived except in our memories. Some things truly are priceless.

Dear young mother: please remember that toddlers are a gift, temporary though they are.  When it seems you can’t get anything done…when you get more boxes to check than checkmarks in the box every day…when you are exhausted with the illness and realize you still have more kids to get it…when you are tired of finding syrup in places you didn’t know it could get to (and you haven’t even had pancakes in weeks!)…stop and find a memory for which to thank God. Blow some bubbles.  Drink in the smile. Pinch the cheeks. They disappear more quickly than the to-do list.

May you find the value behind the gifts you give and receive. I think the remembrance of the giver is “the big one” of them all.

In love,

Terri Brady

Related Posts